HAMPSTEAD – When three of the four area teams make the NCHSAA state football playoffs it’s a pretty good indication that there are some very good players in the area, and that is the case as we looked to formulate an All-Area football team form the four (Dixon, Pender, Topsail, & Trask) in our coverage area.
There were several spots that were especially tough, starting with the quarterback position wher Dixon’s C. D. Hansley, Pender’s Nicky Wells, and Topsail’s Austin Schoenleber all had excellent years.
But we solicited nominations and statistics from the coaches in the area and based on those results we have come up with what we felt were the best players at their respective positions this past season.
As if picking 22 players (11 on offense and 11 on defense) isn’t tough enough, we opted to pick an Offensive Player-of-the-Year and Defensive Player-of-the Year based mostly on the submitted statistics and what they meant to their team.
An argument can be made, as it often is in college, that some teams – and players – compete in weaker conferences and against weaker competition, and while that may be true we based our selections on an overall picture of statistics, team success, and coaches suggestions.
The Offensive Player-of-the-year award goes to Dixon senior quarterback C. D. Hansley. Hansley led the Bulldogs to a 7-4 record – Dixon’s best mark in nearly three decades – and a Coastal Plains 1A Conference record of 4-1, the Bulldogs’ only loss coming via a 48-19 defeat at the hands of NCHSAA 1AA state champion Southwest Onslow.
Along the way the talented senior signal-caller ran for 1,294 yards, passed for an additional 600 yards, and accounted for a total of 20 Dixon touchdowns through his running and passing. Also, according to Dixon Assistant coach Jeremy Shugarts, Hansley was a leader on and off the field.
The Defensive Player-of-the-Year award goes to Topsail senior linebacker Mason Kimmel. In 11 games Kimmel had 109 total tackles (49 solo) but that does not cover what he did by covering the field in both passing and running downs to the extent that that several of his teammates wound up with tackles or interceptions due to Kimmel being where he was supposed to be, when he was supposed to be. Kimmel was a tight end on offense and he accounted for 601 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Topsail Coach Bryan Davis said Kimmel, who is headed for one of the top military institutions, was, “Our emotional leader and one of the best players I have ever coached.”
Dixon’s Ray Swaney – the Coastal Plains 1A Conference Coach-of-the-Year – Pender’s Tony Hudson, and Topsail’s Bryan Davis would all make excellent Coach-of-the-year selections.
Swaney was the leader of the 7-4 Bulldogs, Davis led the Pirates to an overall record of 7-4 (5-2 in the East Central 2A Conference), and Hudson kept the Patriots in the thick of things with an overall record of 6-6 and a Tri-County 1A Conference mark of 4-3.
All of them had a plethora of excellent players, all of them did an excellent job assembling a coaching staff, all of them are excellent coaches, and all of them deserved – and got – consideration.
But we have chosen Trask’s Interim Coach Bill Mercier as our Coach-of-the-Year. While it is relatively easy to coach a team with talent, it is impressive to do the things that Mercier and his staff did.
Coming in suddenly after head Coach Glenn Sellers was forced to step aside after four games due to illness, and losing his starting quarterback shortly thereafter, Mercier kept the Titan ship afloat, and anyone who watched Trask’s games knows those young men did not fold the tent.
There is a lot about life to be learned in sports, much more than the X’s and O’s, such as how to handle – and overcome – adversity, and how to handle constantly being on the short end of a crappy stick when the final result is posted.
You can also learn how to be a leader in those circumstances, and Mercier proved to be an excellent leader, and role model.
Here is the rest of the Topsail News Online All-Area Football team:
First Team Offense:
QB C. D. Hansley, Sr., Dixon – Offensive Player-of-the-year with 1,294 yards rushing, 600 yards passing, and 20 touchdowns
RB Devin Williams, Sr. Topsail – 174 carries for 1,324 yards (7.61 yards-per-carry) in 10 games after coming back from injury, 12 receptions for 204 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 52 tackles on defense.
RB Sam Dixon, Soph., Pender – The cornerstone of Pender’s triple-option offense accounted for 1,390 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
WR Tyler Ross, Jr., Dixon – 16 catches for 300 yards (18.75 yards-per-catch) and over 300 yards in special-teams returns.
WR Matt Gilgo, Sr., Topsail – 19 receptions for 319 yards, 3 touchdowns, 49 tackles on defense, 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, interception, 3 pass breakups.
H-Back Hunter Jacobs, Sr., Topsail – 28 receptions for 374 yards (13.36 yards-per-reception), 4 touchdowns, 46 tackles on defense, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble.
OL Travis Padget, Sr. Dixon – Talented leader at center, led line in helping produce 3,587 total offensive yards.
OL Scott Houtenling, Sr., Topsail – Per Coach Davis, best lineman who helped pave way for over 2,100 yards rushing and 1,750 yards passing; also excellent defensive end with 97 tackles (47 solo), 4 sacks.
OL Eric Parker, Sr., Dixon – Another important cog in offensive line that helped Dixon’s offense accumulate 3,587 total offensive yards.
OL Jacob Dew, Jr., Pender – Excellent blocker and solid defensive lineman who had 78 tackles and a touchdown on defense.
OL Jakeem Smith, Jr., Topsail – Coach Davis said he was the second-best offensive lineman behind Houtenling; also an excellent linebacker with 82 tackles, 3 for loss.
Kicker: Alec Webster, Sr., Topsail – 5 touchbacks on kickoffs, 28-of-33 extra points, 6-of-9 field goals (longest of 42 yards), averaged 32 yards-per-punt.
KR Malik Simmons, Jr., Dixon – Averaged 25 yards per return on kickoffs and punts; 300 yards in special-team’s returns, 6 touchdowns.
DL Kymothy Murphy, Sr., Pender – 88 tackles and excellent offensive center.
DL Kemodrick James, Sr., Trask – Excellent defensive end with 40 solo tackles, 27 assists, 4 sacks, I caused fumble, 2 fumble recoveries.
DL Brian Dubrey-Moore, Outstanding defensive end with 100 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 caused fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked punts.
LB Caleb Johnson, Pender – Had 48 tackles on defense and rushed or 638 yards and six touchdowns on offense.
LB Seth Schoonover, Jr., Dixon – 118 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 caused fumbles, 1 fumble recovery.
LB Mason Kimmel, Sr., Topsail – Defensive Player-of-the-year; 109 tackles (49 solo), 27 receptions as tight end for 601 yards and 6 touchdowns; Pirates’ inspirational leader.
LB Jordan Davis, Trask – 25 solo tackles, 28 assists, 1 fumble recovery.
DB Julius Hansley, Pender – 32 tackles, 4 interceptions, 323 yards rushing on offense.
DB Addison Futrell, Sr., Topsail – 49 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble return for touchdown.
S D. J. Love, Trask – 24 solo tackles, 28 assists, 2 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 12 kickoff return for touchdown.
S Rashawn Deloach, Pender – 41 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 touchdowns.
P Jacob Stranz, Sr., Dixon – Averaged 30 yards-per-punt; 42 tackles as defensive end with 9 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries.
Dixon Sr. LB Nick Rizzo, Sr. OT Austin Rosensteel, Jr. LB Bradley Schoenecker, Soph. LB Kevin Kagle, Jr. OG Tyler Hudson, Jr. OT Daniel Page. S. DB Robbie Wyble, Jr. CB D’Angelo Willams.
Pender Sr. QB Nicky Wells, RB Devin Hansley, WR/CB Ryan Jones.
Topsail Soph. QB Austin Schoenleber, Sr. P/DB Palmer Rice.
Trask Soph. LB Allen Lee, Jr. K/P Matt Sherman, Sr. CB Arthur Brown.